The Art Has Landed

The Art Has Landed…

aliens in art, art history, symbology in art,
The Art Has Landed... forgive the terrible pun!

Each week I write a brand new article to support members of our three wonderful groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, and The Artist Hangout and we are also now joined by a brand new group, The Artists Lounge. This week we take a look into deep space, works of art depicting life beyond our own planet and how we interpret them, and I will provide a few useful tips and tricks to create art with, or even without a sci-fi or space influence or related theme.

For decades the secret of a remote military base was kept hidden from Americans and the world. It didn’t really exist and the U.S government had zero interest in the subject of UFOs. Statements to the contrary, people with very official and high ranking titles cautioned, were probably just the musings of those crackpots wearing tin-foil hats…

The military base in question was remote and around 80-miles north of Las Vegas, it was of course Area 51. The very base that has spawned a million and one theories of conspiracy and none of those theories are quite as infamous as the one that insists that the bodies of UFO crash victims were taken there from Roswell, New Mexico after the incident back in 1947. The problem of course is that the land where Area 51 sits wasn’t acquired by the U.S Air-force until 1955. Mind blowing.

And this was not the first time the U.S government had been looking into the subject of UFOs. Project Sign was set up in 1947 which was also the same year of the alleged crash in Roswell, before being replaced with Project Grudge in 1949 and between 1952 and 1969, Project Blue Book wrapped the extent of the government’s involvement up, but did it really?

So what of the government’s recent interest in UFOs you might ask? The year was 2017 and the world finally got to hear about a project the U.S government had been working on for a number of years. To some people it came as a surprise and for others, well the entire revelation passed them by. But there were a few who were not surprised at all, they had been saying it all along, that the government had an active interest in the field of ufology.
The revelation shined a big bright light on a $22 million program with the not so catchy title of AATIP, an acronym for the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program which by 2017 had been running for many years. A program that looked into and investigated sightings of unidentified flying objects. Bear with, it gets weirder.

By definition, the acronym of UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) itself doesn’t at all mean that any of what is seen and reported are spaceships flown by ET. In most cases the unexplained becomes explained. Swamp gas, military flares, and weather conditions, psychotic substances, birds, drones, aircraft of both the regular and experimental type, all have been the explanations given by governments around the world whenever they have responded publicly to reports.  Nothing to see here, don’t be listening to the crackpots. Except that sometimes the crackpots might just be right or at least pretty darn close.

The entire tin-foil hat crackpot conspiracy theorist label becomes a major issue for the tiny minority of sightings reported by professionals such as pilots and police officers, and others who could be called trained professional observers. Not wanting to appear as the stereotypical tin foil hatter, and often in fear of losing their position or credibility many of these sightings continue to go unreported even to this day. Some get a coat of looking at some get a gaggle of laughs.

The term UFO just conjures up images of flying saucers and little green men. It’s hardly if ever taken in its rightful context. That context is that something that cannot be explained was seen flying in the sky. When people say hey, that’s a UFO, they’re not always saying hey, there’s a little alien dude flying a saucer from outer space, wow, look at the little dude go. Sometimes they mean there was something that they cannot explain flying really fast or slowly in the sky. Nothing more, nothing less.

So it is okay, you can comfortably and confidently say that you have seen a UFO without feeling that people will label you as a tin-foil hatter or crackpot. Okay, some nay, most if not nearly all people will definitely say that you are a tin-foil hatter and that’s another problem that the serious factions of the ufology community have.

So what do the community do to avoid the label of crackpot being applied? They change the name of the flying saucers for a start.

In popular usage, the term UFO came to be used to refer to claims of alien spacecraft, and because of the public and media ridicule associated with the topic, some ufologists and investigators prefer to use terms such as "unidentified aerial phenomenon" (UAP) or "anomalous phenomena", as in the title of the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP). "Anomalous aerial vehicle" (AAV) or "unidentified aerial system" (UAS) are also sometimes used in a military aviation context to describe unidentified targets. - Wikipedia

But no matter what you call them there will always be misinterpretations of what is seen and what is described. You are probably at this very moment trying to work out why an artist who writes about art would suddenly have a keen interest in UFOs and the paranormal, and we will come to that in a moment, bear with, much more weirdness looms.

Firstly I need to set out my own interest in the subject which stems back even longer than I have been creating art. I must have read hundreds of books on the subject over the years, I was fascinated by the mention of Area 51 when news was first broken by George Knapp when he interviewed a gentleman by the name of Dennis, back in 1989.

I remember it even made a news story on TV over here in the UK for a couple of minutes. That gentleman as we would later find out wasn’t really named Dennis at all, his name was Bob Lazar. The self-confessed genius science guy who had managed to get a job at a place called S4 which was an extension of Area 51. Of course nothing was ever confirmed and that story itself is filled with mystery and conspiracy some of which I have to say is very compelling, some of which is not. The question is just how did Bob know in the first place if no one knew it was there?

I am not a believer in conspiracy stories. I don’t subscribe to legions of tales of some hidden alien agenda, but I am also not a skeptic in the sense that most skeptics are. Skeptics often fall into two camps, those who once believed but don’t believe anymore, and those who are flat out, there is no way that this stuff is real. I am kind of the skeptic that is open to believing but who needs hard facts and evidence, not just tall tales and grainy footage.

I love all things space, and I love conspiracy theorists just as one would love a barmy uncle. I have read, listened to, and watched countless hours of programs and documentaries, poured through files disclosed by many different governments, and even spoke with people who I believe have genuinely had an experience that cannot be easily explained.

I have also been using the subject of ufology and the paranormal in my art projects for many years, some of you will have seen the numerous book covers I have created for authors in the genre of sci-fi. My artistic endeavors in the area stretch back to the early nineties so it’s not a subject that I chose because it suddenly became hot, or trendy or because it might inspire the conspiracy market to buy art.

I rarely release my space/sci-fi works through social media and print on demand, usually my works are created for personal enjoyment or as commissions for collectors I have and who also have an interest in the subject. But it is an area that allows me to really stretch my creative muscle and as a subject it is one that allows an artist to really explore and develop.

The entire universe both the known and unknown parts of it suddenly become your canvas and it is a great subject to test out new art techniques and often combine many artistic techniques into a single work.

It’s also simply a really interesting subject. I am of the mind that we cannot be the only life-form to exist in the entirety of the universe, every scientific possibility seems to indicate that the chances of us being the only life-form are slim to non-existent. But that doesn’t mean to say that I believe every one of the stories that we have been visited by some advanced alien species who have traveled vast distances across the galaxy. If they had, you would think that they would have at least dropped in to say hi, or maybe they have and we just don’t know, maybe there is a government cover up after all?

ufo disclosure, alien artwork, mark taylor artist,
Disclosure by Mark Taylor

The other problem that the subject and ufology in general have is technology. You would think if aliens were visiting that we would by now have some exceptional 4K video clearly showing an alien craft, even relatively cheap smartphones can take fairly decent video today. The problem though is that along with technology and the simplicity of creating CGI, we also saw the introduction of being able to monetise the subject and much of what we see online today isn’t so much scientific fact, but click-bait for advertising revenue often using little more than CGI or natural phenomena to convince people that there is something there. But not all of it is designed to achieve monetary gain, there is plenty of serious stuff out there too.

Back to that question as to why as an artist I have written about ufology today, and the answer is simply because even the art world is frequently subjected to its own conspiracy theories and misinterpretations. Ufology as a subject also frequently looks towards the art world for answers, but also there are many artworks that remain at the centre of conspiracy theories but the real answers are slightly more down to earth, well almost.

Interpreting Art…

Interpretation of anything whether that is UFOs or artworks often depends on your own beliefs, and we tend to sway more towards what we want to believe or what resonates with our own beliefs and base the version of our discovered truth on what we might be more open and receptive to hearing and this is exactly why fake news stories are so successful. 
We all see and do things, experience things and arrive at conclusions as individuals and we do this independently based on our beliefs and cultures and what we have previously been exposed to and influenced by. We use our own reality to produce a judgement. When we look at art we individually might see things in the art that others don’t.

The phenomena of seeing spaceship-like objects within artworks isn’t new and what we deem to be UFOs in the alien-guy-saucer-sense have appeared in many works of art for centuries. Some of the representations are intentionally placed to represent a version of what we traditionally think of as aliens or flying saucers, but in other works there is specific symbology which looks like a UFO or alien species but is in fact a representation, a specific symbology with specific meaning.

As a human race we have been painting and drawing these images since we could first hold an implement that allowed us to draw or paint. There are also Native American legends such as those about the Star People which you can read about here, and when we look to our own reality and what we perceive today, we do also have to wonder how people and cultures throughout history would have known about such things without having been first exposed to something from previous incarnations of popular culture.

Some of the artworks that appear to depict alien visitations can be interpreted in many ways. The orb could really be an abstraction of something else because we know that art is littered with symbology, and the alien looking figure could just be an abstraction of human form. In many cases it isn’t at all what many of the conspiracy shows that pop up on TV would have us believe it is, but then they need to sell a show to the networks and the advertisers. See where the problem is in taking the subject seriously yet?

The 'Annuciation with Saint Emidius' painted by Italian artist Carlo Crivelli in 1486 is an altar piece created to commemorate Angel Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Many people have misinterpreted the piece suggesting that the ring in the top left of the work is a spaceship.

There is of course now a consensus among historians and the art community that the ring shining a beam of light onto Mary is in fact the depiction of angels gathered around a circle of clouds and both the ring and the light depict the Holy Spirit.

Glorification of the Eucharist, 1600…

If artwork is being viewed at all we should celebrate and see this as a good thing. Anything that furthers the arts in society, opens discussion and anything which gives people a little more awareness and appreciation of the arts should be welcomed. But some works are so mistranslated that the message of the artwork and the intention of the artist starts to become completely lost. Glorification of the Eucharist, Bonaventura Salimbeni - 1600, is one such work. Image – Public Domain

Glorification of the Eucharist, Bonaventura Salimbeni, art from 1600
Glorification of the Eucharist, Bonaventura Salimbeni - 1600

Back in 2014 the strange round object that sat between God and Jesus was deemed by one YouTube channel to be a depiction of Sputnik, the Russian satellite which was launched some 350-years after the painting had been created. “It looks a little too symbolic” I remember one of the presenters saying in the video. Look closely at the image and you can see that both Jesus and God are in fact looking towards a globe of the world and holding what appear to be pointing wands. Implements which may have been popular at the the painting was created. But maybe, just maybe, Sputnik was modeled on the painting, or it could just be that the Russians who designed Sputnik found that was the only shape that would work. There could be a million reasons for the similarity, it doesn’t help ufology or art when mis-translation occurs.

There have been literally hundreds if not thousands of artworks over the years that appear to depict aliens and spaceships. Perhaps some of our thinking today is as a result of being exposed to these images in the past. Maybe there is a link to some point when someone seeing a cave painting of a stereotypical Grey species of alien that we see so much of in popular culture today, would then misidentify whatever it is they saw or in some cases maybe didn’t see with that image of the alien they had previously seen. Bear with again, this really is mind blowing stuff.

Perhaps there is confusion around translating art, it’s certainly not always easy and many of the art world’s experts have got things wrong in the past. But perhaps misinterpretation also stems from the works not having enough of a written context or little if any documentation, another reason why you should definitely always document your work.

I think if I had witnessed a real life alien spaceship landing on the stereotypical Whitehouse lawn, I would be inclined to think they would either walk out from the craft wearing Make America Great Again hats or they would look real enough for me to either photograph, paint, or draw, and I would definitely try to document the event in some way. Facebook Live, or writing a piece for the New York Times. Either that or I would be running quickly towards the hills and hiding away in fear. What I think I mean here is that there would definitely be something other than the painting that referenced such an event.

Today we see an artistic image of a grey alien and we automatically assume fantasy, it is a symbol representing stereotypical aliens.

I think even the earliest artists would have thought similarly too and wouldn’t just put the object into the painting as an afterthought. Maybe people of the time knew exactly what that symbology meant and it didn’t need documentation or explanation. Here we are maybe a thousand years later and we are scratching our heads and listening to the ancient alien conspiracy stories to find answers. Though there are also works that definitely seem to be more focused on something less symbolic but again, we each interpret art in very different ways.

Landing site, ufo art, mark taylor, pixels, artist
Landing Site by Mark Taylor

Your Alien Art…

Many artists today still incorporate symbology into their works, some of it well documented others not so much. I have even been known to include references to various issues, causes, theories, in some of my works including some of my works covering more down to earth topics outside of sci-fi and aliens. I don’t leave some hidden message in all of my works and often they were left by my subconscious feelings about something rather than being intentional, although there are a few more intentional ones. You just need to look very closely, especially in my more detailed works. One of my latest abstracts which I am hoping will be released soon, for example is a nod of appreciation to Native American cultures. Sometimes my references are subtle, sometimes not so subtle.

But what about the work today that we might be creating as artists covering the subject. As I said earlier the entire subject of space, alien visitation, the paranormal and strange, and the galaxy fascinates me, and even subconsciously some of that inevitably sometimes spills over into my more traditional works. What we are exposed to and influenced by will always show through in some way.

Creating art with a sci-fi or space related theme is fun for all of the reasons I spoke about earlier. It really is a subject that craves artistic exploration and it is a useful side subject to practice new techniques on. There are many artists though who create nothing but artwork depicting these subjects and I am often blown away by some of the work I see appearing on platforms such as Behance.

My good friend David J. Greer who many of my regular Facebook followers will already know frequently creates some of the most beautiful spray paint art featuring planets. They are always just so bold and vibrant and really stand out. You should definitely check out his work and if you are interested in the subject seriously, you should join his new Facebook group.

Because the subject really lends itself to exploration in the arts and can be a useful practice ground for new techniques, we often find that there are elements and techniques that are frequently used in paintings of the subject which can also be applied to many other artistic disciplines too.

Some of the techniques below are ones I have used not just in my space oriented works but I have also used them in some of my more down to earth abstracts and landscapes. I have often created works that border on surrealism too and that is another subject where the artistic techniques can be used, and interpretation is the key to really opening up new meaning to the works. Surrealism isn’t solely about melting clocks!

Making stars, artwork, mark taylor, artist, pixels,
Making Stars by Mark Taylor

The Techniques…

The crossover disciplines of surrealism such as Frottage, Decalcomania, and Grattage can also be used in the composition of works based on the subject of ufology and alien landscapes to provide many different effects but they can also be used to add more visual interest and even texture to any work in any genre.

Examples of these techniques can be seen in the case of Frottage by artists such as Max Ernst who created the technique where the canvas is prepared with a layer or more of paint which is then layered over a texture and scraped over. If you take a look at Ernst’s Forest and Dove, the trees appear to have been created by scraping over the backbone of a fish. You can view that work on Wikipedia right here

Decalcomania is an art form closely aligned with surrealism and one that also lends itself across a range of artistic styles. I also find that it can add a completely new level of interest when you are creating alien landscapes. I managed to find a brilliant tutorial on YouTube that goes through decalcomania which can be found right here

I struggled with pronunciation of that for ages, it is apparently pronounced, decal-co-mania. Decalcomania was a technique used by surrealists to create impromptu paintings controlled largely by chance and if you have a spare five minutes the link above is definitely worth a watch. You will see that there is an element of looking for images within the random patterns, much as we often look for shapes within clouds and why sometimes we might see a UFO-like shape within certain cloud formations, lenticular clouds more specifically.
The process of decalcomania is another great way to build observational skills too which are not only great for your art but might come in handy when you are keeping an eye on the skies for flying saucers too.

Whilst the video above uses glass, this one right here, creates a Max Ernst like texture using plastic wrap. Decalcomania was used by the pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism, Max Ernst. The technique of Decalcomania involves pressing paint between two surfaces. In this demonstration it is oil paint between canvas and plastic wrap. Again this is another great way to add multiple layers of texture to any work.

As an aside from surrealism and Decalcomania, and because I get distracted easily, it was during the research for this article that I came across something I saw a while ago and could never quite figure out what it was or how it was done, an abstract painting technique called cross waters.

You can see a demonstration right here, and there is a link to the supplier “Art Waters” right here, and with my mind focused so much on creating ufology and space works lately, this seemed like a great way to produce a dream like effect, or to create beautiful underwater corals. But if we applied this technique to sci-fi scenes I am sure it would completely bring another level of interest to the work. Imagine the vegetation effects of an alien planet that you could achieve with this technique!

Some 70% of our planet is made up of water and yet we know more about space than we do about what might be hiding away on earth in the deepest parts of the ocean. I was though deeply alarmed of the recent news that plastic has now been found for the third time at the bottom of the Marianna Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. You can read about that story right here

If you have ever had the opportunity to go scuba diving there is a chance that you would have had a thought or maybe two about just how alien the landscape underwater can look. So if you are using a cross-waters effect or creating underwater landscapes, remember that light becomes softer and more diffused. In space scenes maybe there is a presence of gas in your work and this too could be made more realistic if you apply a diffusion of light to the area.

The kit to produce the cross waters effect is probably a considered purchase for most people unless anyone has any idea how to produce a similar effect at a lower cost (leave a comment below) but again this is yet another way we can introduce new techniques into all of our work regardless of the subject. The closest I got to on YouTube was for creating Dendrite Fractals with ink and alcohol and acrylic paint. You can watch that video right here.

Being mostly a digital artist though doesn’t mean that I forever keep my traditional paintbrushes in a drawer. I still get the brushes out frequently because it is vital as a digital artist that you keep your traditional painting and drawing skills up to date, much of what I do digitally is firmly grounded more in traditional techniques than it is with anything like Photoshop. Whilst digital is my preferred choice there are just some effects that you cannot recreate on screen in the same way that you can on canvas. Impasto for example is really difficult to achieve with anywhere near a convincing quality when you do it digitally.

Aside from the painting techniques there are certain elements that can be used to make a painting stand out that never involve paint or a canvas at all and especially when a work covers the subject of space or sci-fi. One of those techniques is making sure that the work has a compelling back story. The asteroid in one of my latest warm up videos has its own story which is loosely based on recent asteroid events and near-earth misses.

Creating a half page outline of a story can provide an artist with some direction for the painting and it’s one of the techniques I have used often for my non-space and non-sci-fi works too.

Creating a back story adds interest and provides me with a plot line on which I can start to tell the story within the artwork itself. I sometimes view the canvas as an unfurnished film set, it is then up to me to figure out where the props should be placed and where the main characters (which could be anything) should be focused, and having this brief story of the scene really helps to pull each element together. It also helps when you come to describing your work for art descriptions and statements.

Some of you might have seen my recent video on my Facebook page. It was literally a spur of the moment creation of me doing what I do every day which is to practice and create at least one piece of art, or test out a new technique. In the video I created an asteroid scene using an Apple Pencil, iPad Pro, and my all-time favourite app, Procreate. If you haven’t watched it yet it is on my page but in short we looked at some of the quickest techniques to produce almost photo-realistic images digitally without resorting to manipulating photos and stock images. The entire process took me just under fifteen minutes to paint the work, the video is time-lapsed at just over a minute and a half.

One of the other techniques you often see in sci-fi and space art where a more dynamic feel of movement is needed, is to pose the content diagonally. In digital works most good applications will give you the ability to blur layers or selections of layers with a motion blur tool and if you use that tool selectively with an angled scene it can really give the work a sense of movement. With traditional mediums physically working on a canvas set at an angle can also produce the effect of movement.

Colour is important if you want to make a scene more believable. In space and sci-fi art you might need to use stark contrast and bright colours in some areas but in other areas you will need a much more muted palette. One of the things that helps me is to always choose only a narrow selection of colours in the palette and add in just a few highlight colours. Highlights tend to work better if they are limited and especially if you are including figures in your work. Strong highlights for example on skin tones can make the skin appear plastic.

The exploration of space through art…

There are a multitude of reasons for me why I love the entire subject of ufology so much. There is a psychological element in why some people seem to be more attuned to phenomena and events more than others. But the fascination also comes from trying to find real answers to things we simply do not know, and in all probability, things that we might never be able to explain. It’s almost like discovering the meaning of life itself.

As far as ufology goes, there is compelling testimony on both camps of both those who believe and those who debunk and I have spent countless hours as I mentioned earlier, listening intently to testimony and reading I think mostly everything I could ever find on the subject including now declassified government reports and papers. To date I don’t believe I have ever truly uncovered a smoking gun, maybe the Rendlesham Forest Incident is as close as I have come, and you can read more about that right here

Nick Pope who has investigated the subject and often appears in UFO related TV episodes after being in charge of the UKs own government UFO desk for a number of years before it closed down, has compiled a lot of the research he worked on during his time with the Ministry of Defence which has now been declassified. In the case of Rendlesham Forest, also known as Britain’s version of Roswell, Jim Penniston (USAF Ret) has consistently given the exact same testimony which is incredibly rare for anyone to do when recounting experiences, other than maybe the Travis Walton incident which is also remarkable when you begin to realise that Travis certainly doesn’t come across as someone who is merely cashing in. I have the most sincere respect for all of them.

Redacted documents will always add fuel to the conspiracy fires or in this case files, but I do believe that we have some footage that casts a serious shadow over the pure debunkers theories. There is government supplied footage covering the “Nimitz TIC TAC UFO incident” which is really difficult to cast aside as anything other than being difficult to fully explain. You can find this and other incidents in a Newsweek article which you can find right here

It is not just UFOs, other theories cover a multitude of equally fascinating subjects and last year I completed a private commission to create a landscape depicting a hidden Bigfoot. Sasquatch or Bigfoot as both get interchanged, are yet another subject where the supplied evidence is not always so easy to cast aside.

Anyone who wants to find out more about Sasquatch should definitely subscribe to James “Bobo” Fay’s YouTube channel right here, where James and Cliff of Animal Planets Finding Bigfoot TV show fame, have recently launched their brand new venture looking closely at the phenomenon of Sasquatch. James, Cliff, I wish you all the best with this exciting new project and I can’t wait to see what you both do. If you want to subscribe to the channel you can also do that on the above link, it will be worth it!

So much is unexplained around these subjects and while the entire subject of aliens and UFO’s and even Bigfoot remain as unexplained as they are, the subjects will always be open to interpretation, misinterpretation, and embellishment. I don’t think we are close to finding an answer anytime soon and I don’t think that disclosure would even come directly from any government if indeed extraterrestrial’s or other life forms, or Bigfoot definitively existed.

space, moon landings, mission, US government, art,
The New Space Race 2024

From a commercial art perspective these subjects have their own markets and at the moment it seems that sci-fi and space themed works are doing particularly well for those who routinely create them. It could be because recent TV shows such as the remake of Roswell and the all new and I have to say very well acted and interesting, Project Blue Book series have sparked a completely new interest in the subject.

We are also seeing a renewed interest in space travel and the recent news of us going back to the moon by 2024 which has been announced by the U.S government has sparked even more dialogue around the subject of space more broadly. Of course there are conspiracies that suggest that we never went to the moon in the first place, or that we did and we found alien life and they told us to never go back. Mars is also in the news a lot lately and the real ambition for many governments is to look towards a manned mission to the Red Planet in the not too distant future.

All of this adds an excitement for space that we haven’t seen since the last space age through the sixties and early part of the seventies and there is little doubt that we will see more artworks in this genre starting to appear over the coming year or two.

Whether or not you decide to join in and create some works of art based on the subject is entirely up to you as an artist. I know some artists will see some opportunity to tap into a market, but be warned that the market for space has always been there and it might be difficult to fully break into. Perhaps though an opportunity for a few artists who are not aligned to a single style or subject to diversify their portfolios on platforms such as Etsy but the competition is fierce and there is a lot of great art out there that already goes unsold just as often as it gets sold.

But as a side subject, it really can be a fantastic canvas of creative experimentation and can really stretch both your imagination and artistic muscle. Telling a story through the image, lighting and environments, and textures, are all elements that are not just used in the depiction of the subjects we have spoken about today but can be useful and even essential if we are painting anything from landscapes to abstracts or even working on figurative pieces in a totally different genre. We shouldn’t just be exploring space, as artists we should be exploring art and its meaning too.

If you find the subject of space, conspiracy theories or anything of that nature fascinating, let us know and especially if you use symbology within your artwork that could be misidentified as something a little let’s say, less earthly, and I am sure we would all love to see what you create. As always, I am happy to feature the best works right here on this site.

Just One More Thing…

Last week I couldn’t get around to uploading this article, hence you are only seeing it this week. That’s because as regular readers will know, I have Crohn’s Disease which is an inflammatory bowel disease that unfortunately flares up at the wrong time, though there is never a good time really. I had to have some new tests at the hospital to figure out why I have been losing a lot of weight in a short space of time, some 84-lbs and definitely not through some miracle diet. I also had to buy two new wardrobes in six months, hardly the diet of dreams when shopping for clothes is something you dislike with a passion!

Thankfully this time wasn’t a full on flare up like some that I have experienced in the past. Unlike many people with the condition I didn’t end up staying in hospital or having emergency surgery, which is something that constantly looms over you when you go through a flare. I was lucky enough to be able to carry on working and I managed to carry on creating some art too, but there were times when I was definitely nowhere close to being on my “A” game and this meant that I was missing for long periods of time from Facebook and here.

That takes a lot for me to admit because like many people who have the condition do, I usually totally ignore the symptoms and soldier on regardless, grit my teeth and take the medication. But the joint pain that comes with Crohn’s was taking its toll and I thought it was probably better to get some rest instead of publishing posts and articles, and I felt certain my six readers would understand! Also this was the first time in around five years other than the odd vacation that I haven’t been online that much.

As artists we often find we lead really busy lives but sometimes we do have to be reminded that we are human too. Crohn’s and my friends frequently remind me of my own vulnerabilities but I know some people simply don’t put themselves first when they really do need to. So the article you were supposed to see this week was about making sure that you all remember to take care of yourselves. Sometimes we have to tread first on the path which is immediately in front of us but we don’t always see it or we need to be reminded that it is there.

Next week I will be treading on a completely new path. I have been summoned to serve as a juror, although not at some prestigious art show which is a tad disappointing. This time I have been summoned to sit on that other kind of jury that involves criminal trials. I have no idea what’s in store, my day job in justice only ever sees me looking at one side of the system so this will be an experience.

I also have no idea if social media and blogging are going to be no-no’s, so I am expecting that we might have to miss another week, possibly two, unless of course they don’t need me. If they don’t I will be here.

I say this because I have so many friends on social media who all sent me messages of love and best wishes recently and if I disappear from Facebook for five minutes, even Mark Zuckerberg seems to send out a search party, my notification count hit 50+ the other day! My collectors on the other hand are probably plotting to sell my work or are now busy looking for some deep and hidden meaning in the works they already have, I’m not going to point anything out other than suggest the far left or far right of some of the works, but not always!

Until next time, best wishes and happy creating!

Mark xx

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger and mostly human, some say I am a coffee/human hybrid. You can purchase my art through my Fine Art America store or my Pixels site here  

You can also order my work through Framing and Art Centre, Deck the Walls, and more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada, or you can just buy directly by getting in touch. I sometimes speak at conferences and events so if you see me, come and say hello. If you want to book me, ping me an email and make sure you have coffee available.

Any art sold through Zazzle, Fine Art America and Pixels contributes towards to the ongoing costs of running and developing this website. You can also view my portfolio website at
You can also follow me on Facebook at: where you will also find regular free reference photos of interesting subjects and places I visit and musings that make me laugh and sometimes cry. This is where I usually post my new releases too. You can also follow me on Twitter @beechhouseart and on Pinterest at and allegedly I am on Instagram. No idea either.

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or maybe just buy me a coffee to feed my constant caffeine addiction and sanity, you can do just that right here


  1. MA Taylor, I hope you are well and truly get over the worst ...84-lbs that's devastating, practically the size of me :). Please take good care of yourself. xo

    1. Thanks Jane, I’m getting so much better at looking after myself, hopefully the weight will sort itself out soon, just a few more tests. On the upside, I can say that I’m exactly the same weight now that I was when I was 16! Definitely not a recommended diet though! Hope you’re keeping well too. xx


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